‘Slip into something more comfortable’ is a phrase that has been echoing through the ages, but one that has been given a contemporary twist and made more trendy of late, even for men. Being termed as ‘Third wardrobe’ – clothes that are neither work-smart nor weekend-away casual, but aiming at comfort – have become a growth area for retailers with many stores stocking up on the trend.
As lifestyle changes, industry experts reveal that ‘home’ concepts like working through home offices, stay-at-home gourmet meal deals, shopping from home is seeing a surge as people are retreating more and more into their homes as a reflection of their desire to be nearer to their comfort zone. From a fashion perspective, this urge to be comfortable is resulting in the increasing relevance of the third wardrobe and giving it the much-needed push. Also termed as ‘loungewear’ in menswear department, it is progressively changing for stylish male consumers, who do not want to be restricted to old T-shirts and tracksuit bottoms. With consumer preferences drastically undergoing changes, men now want luxury even when indoors.
Doing the rounds at runways, the high street has already caught up with the trend as Uniqlo offers lounge trousers from £ 15 upwards and Topman has a whole loungewear section that includes everything from tie&dye onesies to floral-print joggers. Further, Marks & Spencer offers a whole section on loungewear. “We first introduced loungewear for men as a distinct category five years ago. We’ve seen men moving away from traditional smart pyjamas towards more relaxed, leisurewear style pieces. Men want something comfortable to change into when they get home from work to relax,” informs Tony O’Connor, Head of Menswear at Marks & Spencer. Not far behind is Debenhams, Tommy Hilfiger, Next, GAP, Burton, Macy’s, all of which are continuously offering a wide variety of men’s loungewear to choose from.
Already a step ahead on the runway, Tuscan-born Emiliano Rinaldi for La Perla, the famous lingerie brand has already created the brand’s first men’s runway collection, which was presented at the menswear showcase Pitti Uomo in Florence. From kimono-style dressing gowns and pyjama bottoms in bold gingham checks to printed silk shorts and sheer mesh T-shirts; cotton nightshirts, smoking jackets and cosy zip-up hoodies to sweat pants in shades of ecru and burnt orange; also the eye-catching snake-print catsuit, the collection was all about loungewear. “For the new loungewear collection, we wanted to communicate a lifestyle and a new state of mind; a belief that men will be wearing these pieces. Loungewear holds an important place in men’s style as the home is the place where we ought to be at ease and feel most comfortable,” informs Rinaldi of La Perla. Not far behind is Paul Smith with a modern twist on the traditional man’s wardrobe such as pyjamas, track pants, shorts, etc. and Dries Van Noten, whose long and lean silhouette in fabrics like silk and viscose crepes gives the robes and loungewear a sensuous look.
Available in-stores and being rapidly seen on the runway, if one searches online for loungewear, they will be presented with a host of big brands offering stop-at-home essentials, from zip up hoodies by Hugo Boss to Henley ‘grandad’ T-shirts by Ralph Lauren, pure cotton dressing gowns by Paul Smith, ‘Night & Day’ pyjama set by Hanro and navy-checkered flannel trousers by British heritage label Derek Rose. “There has been a clear trend for loungewear over the past five years, especially at a premium quality level. Sales prove that the demand for high-quality, stylish loungewear has grown. The younger generation wants to be comfy to enjoy downtime and are drawn to a more relaxed look,” shares Sacha Rose, Chief Executive of Derek Rose, the third generation at the head of a family business that started producing men’s nightwear back in 1926.
Meanwhile, various online portals are also seeing an increase in loungewear sales amongst which is Farfetch, a designer luxury fashion for men and women. It offers luxurious basics such as cotton T-shirts from Kolor, Neil Barrett and Sunspel. “When a man likes a product he will buy into it heavily, so once he has found a style of T-shirt that suits him, he is likely to buy five of that same style,” reveals Alannah Sparks, Fashion Editor, Farfetch. Asos, one of the UK’s largest online stores selling over 850 brands also hosts a collection of men’s loungewear on its website ranging from slouchy jersey tops and bottoms to tanks and sleepwear.
However, part of the success and acceptance of loungewear is in its being interpreted as a functional third wardrobe, not necessarily limited to homewear. Generally, customers love wearing these products for long-haul flights, at the gym, tennis court, etc.where the comfort is of primary importance. Today, people are unwilling to compromise on comfort and style, and why should they when they are getting the best of both world’s combined – Fashion and Comfort – and this is giving the ‘Third Wardrobe’ a much needed push by retailers, designers and online portals.